Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Indian Wednesday #10: Tamil Nadhu Fried Chicken

Chicken 65

This recipe is accompanied by a legend as to how the dish got its name. According to Monica Bhide, there are one of five different explanations for the unusual name of this dish, ranging from the age of the inventor to the number of spices involved. Certainly, this version doesn't involve sixty-five spices, but rather a smooth marinade of yoghurt, ginger, garlic and chile, with an oil and curry leaf dressing added at the end.

In the recipe, Bhide says 'Don't worry if the marinade looks pink!' due to the addition of red food coloring. Apparently, after cooking the chicken by deep frying it in oil it l turns red. I've included a before and after picture for you to demonstrate that one.

One of the most interesting things about this recipe is that even though the chicken is deep fried, it doesn't taste like it. In fact, it tastes to me as if it was cooked in an oven. Maybe its the marinade, but the chicken was succulent, tasty and not at all greasy, which is what I expected. All round, an amazing dish.

Wikipedia has some fun variations on the legend here.

'Don't worry if the marinade looks pink!'
It will turn red after frying. Ladies and gentlemen, Chicken 65

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Indian Wednesday #9: Basil

Tomato-Basil Pilaf

There hasn't been an Indian Wednesday for a few weeks since I have been travelling, first to Switzerland and then to Italy and it just wasn't practical. I have missed them so much that I was raring to go this week.

Ironically, I picked a dish that has very Italian flavors—tomato and basil—but is cooked in a very Indian way, as a pilaf. A pilaf can be defined as a rice dish slowly cooked in a flavored broth. Rather like an Italian risotto you say? Well not really, since the type of rice used, long grain basmati, is very different to the absorbent short grain arborio used in Italy, and so the texture and nutty flavor are very different. Also, there is no stirring, one of the real pains about risotto. In fact Monica Bhide is quite adamant about it: 'Do not lift the cover while the rice is cooking.' When after the twenty minutes or so that it is cooking you do lift the cover, you are greeted with perfect, fluffy rice speckled and seasoned with the basil and colored a sunny yellow with the tomato juice. A real surprise.

An even bigger surprise, however, was the taste. The weightless rice tasted buttery, as if I had added a tablespoon of unsalted as we are won't to do here in France. However, not even so much as a morceau of butter was added. I will definitely be eating this again.  Monica Bhide advises removing the large chunks of crushed garlic from the dish before serving. I didn't and I will say, if you like garlic, finding one of them in a mouthful of rice was a real treat.